WITH the prices of goods continuing to soar, every peso saved can go a long way.
Many are now actually tightening their belts, skipping cab rides and foregoing their favorite frappes to cut back on expenses.
It’s a good thing there are still freebies that the budget-conscious could enjoy.
Here are some of them:
EDSA Carousel bus rides
The free bus rides along the EDSA Carousel lane is heaven-sent to harried and thrifty commuters.
Not only do bus passengers save on fares, they also get to their destination faster as the lane is dedicated exclusively for the EDSA Carousel buses and commuters enjoy an obstruction-free ride along Metro Manila’s longest highway.
Starting December 1, the free rides will be available 24/7 instead of the usual 4 a.m. to 11 p.m.
However, this good thing will come to an end soon. Reports said the administration did not allocate a budget to continue the Libreng Sakay program in 2023.
The National Library of the Philippines in Manila has a treasure trove of knowledge, including rare books and special collections, and is accessible to the public for free.
Visitors to the National Library can also use the Reading Room where they could enjoy free wifi and use the power outlets for their personal devices.
Local governments also have their own public libraries, and some are air-conditioned and offer free wifi as well.
These can be good places to chill.
There’s no need to shell out money to sit on a bench and enjoy the sight of greenery in the country’s public parks.
The expansive Rizal Park in Manila is one of the easily accessible green places in the metro.
The Ayala Triangle gardens, Legazpi Active Park, and Washingtong Sycip Park in Makati also offer a break from the skyscrapers in the urban jungle.
The Quezon City Memorial Circle offers a place to relax and ride bikes, while the University of the Philippines-Diliman sunken garden and oval are nice places to sit and stroll.
Wi-fi in public places
The government is required to provide free wi-fi in public places under the Free Internet in Public Places Act, which became a law in 2017.
These places include national and local government offices, public basic education institutions and state universities and colleges, public hospitals, public parks, libraries, and plazas, public airports and seaports, and public transport terminals.
However, while the free wi-fi connection may be available in these areas, it’s not always up to speed.
The government is mandated to provide free access to contraceptives and family planning methods under the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
There are also non-government organizations such as the Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Inc. that offer different contraceptive methods to women for free. No judgment attached.
Health experts recommend getting tested for HIV as part of routine health care.
It’s a good thing that an HIV test is available for free in some local government health care centers, the RITM Satellite clinics, and other non-profit organizations.
One of the free HIV testing hubs is LoveYourself, Inc., which has several community centers in the country.
Aside from free HIV testing, it also offers free treatment and doctor’s consultation. These services are available by appointment.
The Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act allows persons below 15 who are pregnant or engaged in high-risk behavior to get tested for HIV without need for parental consent.
Spay and neuter services
Local governments occasionally offer free spaying and neutering services for residents’ pet dogs and cats. This is recommended in order to control the pet population and prevent the increase of stray animals in the community.
Animal welfare groups offer low-cost spay and neutering services year round, but also sometimes hold operations like these for free.
Rabies is a public health concern, and local governments routinely go around barangays to provide free anti-rabies vaccines to pets.
Routine immunization for children
The Department of Health offers free immunization for children to protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles.
The pandemic is not yet over, even though almost all restrictions have been relaxed.
The government continues to offer the COVID-19 vaccine for free. Make sure to complete your doses and get a booster shot!